The issue of legitimacy, in law enforcement, court proceedings, and correctional practices, is one of the hottest topics in criminal justice today. Recently, police shootings of unarmed and unthreatening black men have triggered violent protests and racial strife. It seems like as soon as the reaction to one incident begins to calm down, another starts the cycle anew.

In the judicial sphere, things look more promising. New, specialized courts, like drug courts and veteran’s courts seek to address specific problems or populations in new, innovative ways. Defendants are being treated with more dignity and given more support to help them succeed. Though it is still too early to make sweeping pronouncements about the effectiveness of these measures in actually reducing crime, it stands to reason that improving the public’s perceptions of the criminal justice system is a laudable goal regardless.

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Given the current situation, what, if anything, can be done to enhance public perceptions of the police, particularly in disadvantaged, urban neighborhoods? How should we, as a society, address the widespread civil unrest afflicting our country? Are judicial innovations, like drug courts, really a good thing, or just the latest fad?

350 – 450 Words only

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